STELLA, a new play about women and astronomy which will open in May 2013 and then begin a UK tour to include Greenwich Theatre and The Rose Kingston

Lead Research Organisation: Take the Space
Department Name: Drama


This new play about women and astronomy will be on a UK tour from June 2013.
STELLA tells the story of two female astronomers: Caroline Herschel from the C18th and Jessica Bell, a fictional radio astronomer from the C21st: Jess, a lecturer at University College, London is invited to write about her favourite female astronomer from the past and so, Jess arrives in Bath to research the life of Caroline Herschel.

The action of this piece unfolds as a double narrative: two women from different times simultaneously inhabit the same house in Bath. The intention is for our audience, whilst engaged emotionally in the personal challenges of both astronomers, to perhaps consider {consciously or even subconsciously} the concept of Time and Space.

The character of Jess also offers a contemporary insight into the Herschel legacy which undoubtedly enriched the study of later astronomers and cosmologists. The premise of the play is that Caroline's concern for the astronomers of the future was a passionate driving force that fed into the rigor and exactitude of both her observations and her charts.This theme of Past and Future is fundamental to the play: we learn that Jess' daughter, in the midst of the Arab Spring, has become an intern at the new Library of Alexandria - and so the memory of Hypatia {350AD to 415AD}, the very first female astronomer, also ripples through the piece.

Ultimately by linking the role of women through the ages with the study of the universe, we hope to show that the search for understanding and truth is the meeting point for all women, men, scientists and artists, and that this meeting point deepens our experience of the world we live in and nourishes the human psyche; that the challenges of the female astronomer are relevant to all women
" the audience choked on the bared emotions and the wonderment of people seeing deep space for the first time" The Guardian, John Vidal on STELLA'S performed reading in May 2012.

Our tour includes Greenwich Theatre, The Old Market in Brighton, The Mill at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, The Rose Kingston, BT Studio at Oxford Playhouse and Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. At present, we are touring to eleven venues, with an expected total of twenty performances and an audience total of 2,320.

However if funding is achieved from the STFC, we will be able to expand STELLA'S tour considerably; we hope to play at least two festivals this Summer and already have strong interest from theatres for the Autumn.


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